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Posts on ‘September 24th, 2006’

XFN-ASIA: Shell mulling legal options if unable to resolve Sakhalin issue – report

HONG KONG (XFN-ASIA) – Royal Dutch Shell PLC managers are mulling legal options if the company is unable to resolve the Sakhalin-2 project issue with Russian authorities by other means, the Wall Street Journal reported in its online edition, citing people familiar with the matter.

Last week, Russia’s ministry of natural resources pulled a key environmental permit for Shell-led consortium’s oil-and-gas project on Russia’s Sakhalin island.

Work on the project has not stopped, and Shell said it has not been formally notified that the permit has been cancelled.

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The Guardian: Environmentalists back Putin over Shell’s energy permit

· Downing Street and US express concerns
· Report lists mounting problems of gas project

Terry Macalister
Monday September 25, 2006

Britain has raised concerns with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, over last week’s withdrawal of Shell’s permit to develop the $20bn (£10bn) Sakhalin-2 energy project, suggesting the move could spark a diplomatic row.

Approval by the Russian natural resources ministry for Shell’s liquefied natural gas project on Sakhalin island, in the far east of the country, was abruptly withdrawn last Monday on environmental grounds. A Downing Street spokesperson said yesterday: “The government is raising its concerns about the decision with the Russian government. Downing Street is following this very closely.”

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The New York Times: Putin tries to quell concern over business maneuvers

By Ariane Bernard
Published: September 24, 2006
 
PARIS France, Germany and Russia met during the weekend, discussing a number of contentious business topics as Russia tried to quiet European unease over its investment in the European aerospace consortium EADS and play down recent problems with Western oil companies operating in Russia.
 
President Vladimir Putin of Russia met with President Jacques Chirac of France in bilateral meetings on Friday evening, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany joined the two on Saturday for talks at a castle north of Paris.
 
“Concerning the acquisition of a 5 percent stake, I can appease you all by telling you it is not at all the sign of an aggressive behavior on the part of Russian partners,” Putin said Saturday. “We will not use this stake to change in any way the institutional situation of EADS.”
 
Earlier this month, a Russian state- controlled bank bought a 5.02 percent stake in EADS, the parent company of Airbus, and Russian officials indicated then that the government hoped to increase its stake. But EADS and Thierry Breton, the French finance minister, subsequently rebuffed speculation that Russia might gain a position on the board of the European consortium.
 
The Russian government is also squabbling with the French oil giant Total over the Kharyaga oil field in Northern Russia, with the authorities indicating that Total may lose its license, although Putin told reporters in Paris on Friday that “the rumors” about Total losing its license in Kharyaga “were greatly exaggerated.”
 
An Élysée Palace spokesman indicated that Putin’s reassurances were considered solid guarantees for France’s investments in Russia.
 
Dissent has grown in recent months between the Russian authorities and Western oil companies, among them Royal Dutch Shell and Texas-based ExxonMobil, as Russia is disputing some of its production-sharing agreements that were entered in the early 1990s at a time when oil prices were low and Russia lacked the investment capability to exploit its resources on its own.
 
On Friday, Russia announced that it had granted a license to the Russian group Rosneft to exploit an oil field adjacent to ExxonMobil’s Sakhalin-1 site in Eastern Russia, despite Exxon’s filing for the field on the basis that the company considered that it fell within its licensed area. Putin did not publicly address the disagreements over Exxon’s claims or Shell’s recently losing a license to carry out work at the Sakhalin-2 site.
 
Instead, Putin reassured Western countries that he appreciated the co-dependent nature of energy suppliers and consumers. He also indicated that it was “very much a possibility” that some oil resources be redirected to Europe.
 
Merkel insisted on the need for “reliable partners,” between Europe and Russia, in energy matters. The European Union has sought without success since 2000 to install an energy charter treaty on energy with Russia, an arrangement that would open its market and ensure stability in fossil fuel supplies to Europe.
 
Putin also announced that he had signed on Friday two “memoranda of understanding,” which act as blueprints for potential contracts, representing more than $10 billion.
 
One of the agreements, entered between the Russian Transportation Ministry and the French construction giant Vinci, concerns plans for a highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The other memorandum, between the Russian and French transportation ministries, look at possible cooperation on railroad, transportation and infrastructure in Russia, the Élysée said.
 
In addition to business matters, the three countries discussed current diplomatic issues, and Putin said on Saturday that Russia was ready to send “a small deployment of Russian military engineers” to Lebanon.
 
 PARIS France, Germany and Russia met during the weekend, discussing a number of contentious business topics as Russia tried to quiet European unease over its investment in the European aerospace consortium EADS and play down recent problems with Western oil companies operating in Russia.
 
President Vladimir Putin of Russia met with President Jacques Chirac of France in bilateral meetings on Friday evening, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany joined the two on Saturday for talks at a castle north of Paris.
 
“Concerning the acquisition of a
5 percent stake, I can appease you all by telling you it is not at all the sign of an aggressive behavior on the part of Russian partners,” Putin said Saturday. “We will not use this stake to change in any way the institutional situation of EADS.”
 
Earlier this month, a Russian state- controlled bank bought a 5.02 percent stake in EADS, the parent company of Airbus, and Russian officials indicated then that the government hoped to increase its stake. But EADS and Thierry Breton, the French finance minister, subsequently rebuffed speculation that Russia might gain a position on the board of the European consortium.
 
The Russian government is also squabbling with the French oil giant Total over the Kharyaga oil field in Northern Russia, with the authorities indicating that Total may lose its license, although Putin told reporters in Paris on Friday that “the rumors” about Total losing its license in Kharyaga “were greatly exaggerated.”
 
An Élysée Palace spokesman indicated that Putin’s reassurances were considered solid guarantees for France’s investments in Russia.
 
Dissent has grown in recent months between the Russian authorities and Western oil companies, among them Royal Dutch Shell and Texas-based ExxonMobil, as Russia is disputing some of its production-sharing agreements that were entered in the early 1990s at a time when oil prices were low and Russia lacked the investment capability to exploit its resources on its own.
 
On Friday, Russia announced that it had granted a license to the Russian group Rosneft to exploit an oil field adjacent to ExxonMobil’s Sakhalin-1 site in Eastern Russia, despite Exxon’s filing for the field on the basis that the company considered that it fell within its licensed area. Putin did not publicly address the disagreements over Exxon’s claims or Shell’s recently losing a license to carry out work at the Sakhalin-2 site.
 
Instead, Putin reassured Western countries that he appreciated the co-dependent nature of energy suppliers and consumers. He also indicated that it was “very much a possibility” that some oil resources be redirected to Europe.
 
Merkel insisted on the need for “reliable partners,” between Europe and Russia, in energy matters. The European Union has sought without success since 2000 to install an energy charter treaty on energy with Russia, an arrangement that would open its market and ensure stability in fossil fuel supplies to Europe.
 
Putin also announced that he had signed on Friday two “memoranda of understanding,” which act as blueprints for potential contracts, representing more than $10 billion.
 
One of the agreements, entered between the Russian Transportation Ministry and the French construction giant Vinci, concerns plans for a highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The other memorandum, between the Russian and French transportation ministries, look at possible cooperation on railroad, transportation and infrastructure in Russia, the Élysée said.
 
In addition to business matters, the three countries discussed current diplomatic issues, and Putin said on Saturday that Russia was ready to send “a small deployment of Russian military engineers” to Lebanon. 

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The Moscow Times: Rosneft to Win License

Monday, September 25, 2006. Issue 3504. Page 6.

Rosneft will win a license to explore for oil and gas at an offshore area bordering ExxonMobil’s Sakhalin-1 project in the Pacific Ocean.

Rosneft was the only company to apply by the Sept. 14 deadline to take part in a planned auction of the license for the Lebedinsky field, Nikolai Gudkov, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Ministry, said Friday by telephone. That means the auction will be canceled and the license awarded to Rosneft, he said. (Bloomberg)

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Irish Times: Shell open to new talks on pipeline

By: Tim O’Brien,
Published: Sep 23, 2006

Shell E&P Ireland, which is developing the Corrib Gas project, has in the last few days invited the principal opponents of the project to new talks.

Shell E&P managing director Andy Pyle said yesterday that the company had written to Dr Mark Garavan, of the Shell to Sea campaign, seeking dialogue on a new route for the onshore pipeline. The company is planning to resume work on the Bellanaboy terminal site as early as next week.

Mr Pyle said that the company had “no intention of getting involved in any civil actions” against protesters and he hoped that any protests “would be peaceful”.

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Financial Times: Threat to Sakhalin-2 shakes confidence, warns Beckett

By Arkady Ostrovsky in Moscow, David Wighton in New York and Ed,Crooks in London

Published: September 23 2006 03:00 | Last updated: September 23 2006 03:00

Margaret Beckett, the UK foreign secretary, has warned that Russia’s threat to the future of the Sakhalin-2 project run by Royal Dutch Shell was the sort of move that “shakes confidence in foreign investors”.

She told the Financial Times she had raised the issue with Russia’s foreign minister at the UN meeting in New York this week.

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Itar-Tass: Russia’s partners in Sakhalin-2 should fulfill obligations – FM

Sakhalin II

24.09.2006
 
UNITED NATIONS, September 24 (Itar-Tass) – Russia wants its partners in the Sakhalin-2 oil field development project to fulfill their obligations to this project and not violate them, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday.

He pointed out that “many environmental obligations were violated.”

“The initial cost of the project was doubled. Higher the costs, later Russia will be able to get profits from this agreement,” he said.

“Why the incidents on BP’s pipelines that caused global violations of environmental norms were perceived as violation,” he asked. “The suspension of BP’s activities on Alaska raised no question. The same approach should be taken to the situation on Sakhalin,” Lavrov said.

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AFP: Sakhalin dispute risks Russia’s Asian ambitions

Published: Sunday, 24 September, 2006
 
MOSCOW: Russian government pressure on a Shell-led consortium developing vast oil and gas fields in the Pacific Ocean could set back Moscow’s hopes of becoming a key energy exporter to Asia, observers have said.

The possibility that the dispute could delay planned deliveries from the fields to Asia beyond 2008 is “the understatement of the year”, said Adam Landes, energy expert at the Moscow-based Renaissance Capital investment bank.

“To all extents and purposes the project is paralysed by the decision adopted yesterday. What the investors are facing is re-negotiation or paralysis,” Landes said.
On Monday, Russia revoked an environmental permit for the Sakhalin-2 project, halting work on natural gas infrastructure that is a key part of Moscow’s plans to boost oil and gas exports to energy-hungry Asian markets.

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Financial Mail on Sunday: Sad fall for Browne at the last fence

Lisa Buckingham,
24 September 2006

Why Lord Browne fought –unsuccessfully – to stay at the helm of BP long after the company’s compulsory retirement date of 60 is anyone’s guess.

It was an ignominious tussle with his chairman, Peter Sutherland, and one that resulted in him getting only a few months extra in the top job.

But even as unseemly briefings by ‘friends’ of both men were given gleeful coverage in the financial Press, BP appeared to be unravelling faster than a ball of wool in the paws of a kitten.

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Bloomberg: Russia `Long Way From’ Pulling Out of Sakhalin-2, Lavrov Says

By Hannah Gardner

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) — Russia is not considering pulling out of the Sakhalin-2 project with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments released today.

“We are a long way from backing out of agreements we have reached, no matter how difficult the conditions were when they were agreed to,” Lavrov said yesterday. He made the comments to Russian reporters in New York, according to a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s Web site today.

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The Houston Chronicle: Oil crunch

U.S. Energy Department study concludes crude production will peak, requiring other energy forms

Last September, a Chronicle editorial warned that global oil production would peak in this decade or the next, and then inexorably decline. Given that likelihood, the United States would have to embark on a crash program to develop alternative energy sources or endure crippling increases in the price of energy.

Last week, a study performed for the U.S. Department of Energy concurred with the editorial’s conclusions.

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The Washington Post: Hurricane Chávez: What’s worse for energy security: a natural disaster or a petro-bully?

Sunday, September 24, 2006; B06

HUGO CHAVEZ got the attention that he craves by comparing President Bush to Satan last week. But the Venezuelan leader’s absurd talk may be less threatening than his equally absurd incompetence. Since Mr. Chávez took power seven years ago, Venezuela has mismanaged its oil so disastrously that production may have fallen by almost half, according to the estimates of outsiders, reducing global oil supply by a bit more than 1 percent. Along with natural disasters and Nigerian rebels, Mr. Chávez’s ineptitude has contributed to high energy prices.

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Sunday Express: To the ends of the earth: did Shell underestimate Russia?

Sunday 25 September 2006

Oil, finance and a far flung deal. Did Shell underestimate Russia? asks Tracey Boles

SHELL staked a great deal on the Russian island of Sakhalin, off the frozen coast of Siberia. This former Soviet arms dump and penal colony that lies north of Japan endures Arctic weather for much of the year. Earthquakes frequently shake the island. The Russian author Anton Chekhov called it “hell”.

The conditions may be tough but Sakhalin attracted Shell and other international energy giants, including Exxon and BP, because it is home to oil and gas reserves equal in size to those left in the North Sea.

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Sunday Express: London Stock Exchange ‘should have warned investors’ on Russia, says Yukos lawyer

Sunday 24 September 2006

THE lawyer of jailed Russian oligarch and former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky criticised the London Stock Exchange for failing to warn investors of risks in trading with Russia, writes Jo MacFarlane. Robert Amsterdam, a founding partner of Toronto-based law firm
 
Amsterdam & Perroff, told the Financial Sunday Express the UK exchange was turning a “blind eye” to Russia’s “appalling record” on corporate governance.

The World Bank report, Governance Matters, published this month, ranked Russia 151st out of 200, on a par with Swaziland.
 
“What happened in Sakhalin strengthened the case for those in Russia to use energy as a weapon — which the West will continue to allow,” Amsterdam said. “That is why the World Bank report is so important but the silence that greeted it is staggering.

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Sunday Express: Shell faces loan freeze over Sakhalin fiaso

By Tracey Boles
Sunday 24 September 2006

Banks delay multi-billion dollar loan to oil giant

SHELL bosses have been dealt an unprecedented blow by international lenders who are threatening to freeze up to $5 billion in funding for its flagship Russian project.

The threat is due to a legal wrangle following Russia’s decision last week to pull a
crucial environmental licence for Sakhalin, the mammoth Siberian oil and gas development.

The Anglo-Dutch oil giant was hoping to finance the next phase of its operation on the island of Sakhalin from a consortium of banks, including the European Bank For Reconstruction And Development (EBRD), the Japanese development bank JPIC and the US Import Export Bank.

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San Francisco Chronicle: Chavez drives a hard bargain, but Big Oil’s options are limited

By Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, September 24, 2006 

(09-24) 04:00 PDT El Tigre, Venezuela — On the hot, shrub-covered plains around this dusty, dingy town, an odd courtship is being carried out between the world’s most prominent revolutionary and the world’s biggest oil companies.

Just as there is no love between President Hugo Chavez and the Bush administration, there is little love lost between Chavez and the foreign oilmen who are pumping up the huge reservoirs of underground oil. But they need each other. The United States needs Venezuela to help quench its bottomless thirst for oil, and Chavez needs America to buy it from him in order to fund his dreams of spreading his leftist ideology around the hemisphere.

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Time Magazine: Frozen Assets: Russia revokes an oil-drilling licence for Sakhalin Island

Time Magazine Sakhalin II

(URSULA HYZY / AFP-GETTY IMAGES
DEEP FREEZE: Foreign oil firms fear they may lose their investments in the Russian Far)

Drilling for oil and gas around the harsh, remote island of Sakhalin in Russia’s Far East was never going to be easy, but a political chill has put some of the world’s biggest energy projects in an unexpected deep freeze. In the decade since they negotiated separate drilling agreements with Russian authorities, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell have gone way over budget and incurred the wrath of leading environmental groups.

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Reuters: Gazprom seeks 20 pct of Exxon’s Sakhalin-1 -paper

MOSCOW, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Russian gas monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research) is in talks to buy a 20 percent stake in a Sakhalin Island project led by Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), Britain’s Observer newspaper reported on Sunday.

The paper, which gave no source for the information, said Gazprom had confirmed it was in talks to buy the stake from India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) (ONGC.BO: Quote, Profile, Research), though a Gazprom source who requested anonymity told Reuters he believed the report to be incorrect.

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Asharq Alawsat News: Shell Outlines Environment-Friendly Strategy

24/09/2006

Dubai, Asharq Al-Awsat- Shell announced initiatives it has adopted for mitigating climate change and promoting learning and education in the region, at the third Middle East Corporate Social Responsibility Summit.

Dr. Gavin Graham, VP New Business, Middle East, Caspian & South Asia, Shell EP International Ltd said, “Shell has incorporated two key activities in its business strategies towards fulfilling the objectives of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy. The first of these addresses climate change through the capture and utilisation of carbon dioxide while the second involves extending continued support to education, learning and development initiatives, in partnership with the Emirates Foundation, local universities and communities.”

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The Australian: LNG push fuels Darwin’s hopes

By Rick Wilkinson
September 23, 2006 12:00am

THERE’S a growing sense of excitement in Darwin as the petroleum industry moves into a new wave of exploration and appraisal of gas prospects in the Timor Sea.

Australia’s most northern city may soon rival the north-west of Western Australia as an important hub in the supply of gas for export and domestic use.

The main push is being driven by the upward spiral in global demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG). But more recently, the possibility has arisen of a window of opportunity in Australia’s domestic market – particularly in the south-eastern states – as doubts continue to surround the PNG-Queensland gas pipeline project.

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Scotland on Sunday: The true cost of Sakhalin II

Comment posted by John Donovan on
http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1410972006#new
(ARTICLE: “Putin pours scorn on defence and fuel fears”)

I operate a website – www.royaldutchshellplc.com – focused on the activities of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. With over 10,000 news articles, it is one of two websites recommended by Fortune Magazine for information about Shell. The other is Shell’s own portal website, www.shell.com. We also publish leaked Shell internal documents, plus comments and articles from Shell insiders.

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The Scotsman: Putin pours scorn on defence and fuel fears

JAMES MACKENZIE AND CHRISTIAN LOWE IN COMPIEGNE
 
RUSSIAN president Vladimir Putin moved yesterday to allay western fears over Russia’s intentions towards European aerospace group EADS and offered the prospect of more gas for Europe, saying Russia was a reliable energy partner.

Putin’s remarks at a joint news conference with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac and German chancellor Angela Merkel followed a meeting between the three leaders which focused on aviation and Western worries about energy security.

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New York Times: Gazprom Considering Shtokman Exports to Europe

EXTRACT: Industry sources said the move came after Vice President Dick Cheney accused Russia of using energy as a tool of intimidation and blackmail.
 
By REUTERS

COMPIEGNE, France (Reuters) – Russia assured France and Germany on Saturday it was a reliable energy supplier to European consumers and said Gazprom was considering exporting gas from its Shtokman field toward Europe.

Most of the gas the giant Russian monopoly wants to pump from the field, which lies under the Barents Sea 342 miles (550 km) from Russia and Norway, is destined for the United States.

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The Observer: Moscow makes its power play

Last week, Russia threatened to scrap licences granted to Western companies in a bid to regain control of its energy resources. Can the West fight back? Oliver Morgan and Nick Mathiason report

Sunday September 24, 2006

It may have been flexing for some time, but the strong arm of Russia’s nationalist oil policy has now muscled its way into full view. A series of events last week called into question the rights of the world’s most powerful energy firms to develop oil and gas facilities across Russia, the clearest sign yet of President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions to wrest back control of his country’s resources. BP’s Lord Browne and Shell chief Jeroen van der Veer looked on impotently; for Exxon and Total the stakes are equally high.

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The Observer: Blair wades in to Russia oil crisis

Gazprom moves to seize further control of energy resources as crisis threatens diplomatic relations

Oliver Morgan and Nick Mathiason
Sunday September 24, 2006

Tony Blair has made clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin his deep concern over threats to strip Shell of its licence to operate the $20bn Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project off the east coast of Russia.

It has also emerged that Gazprom, the giant Russian state-controlled energy group, is in negotiations to buy into the neighbouring Sakhalin-1 project, led by Exxon of the US. Russian authorities have warned that Exxon, too, may face revocation of its licence on this project, due to cost increases. The development could spark a serious deterioration in relations between Washington and the Kremlin.

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The Independent on Sunday: Oil’s big beasts dive for cover

Business Analysis

By Abigail Townsend
Published: 24 September 2006

Not so long ago, it was the best of times to be an oil company. There may have been the dark cloud of environmental issues, but that alone could not dent the cheerful corporate mood. Demand was high, prices were soaring and profits gushed.

Yet last week demonstrated just how much tougher things are getting as BP and Shell both hit the headlines, the former for delays to its Thunder Horse platform in the Gulf of Mexico and Shell for a run-in with the Kremlin. Nor are these one-off events but part of a mounting set of problems that could upset the status quo for the oil majors.

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